Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Thursday, February 21st, 2019

They say to know oneself is to know all there is that is human. But of course no one can ever know himself. Nothing human is finally calculable; even to ourselves we are strange.

Gore Vidal

E North
None ♠ K 10 7 5
 A 3
 K Q J 9
♣ A 9 3
West East
♠ 8 6
 9 8 6 5
 10 4
♣ Q 10 8 7 6
♠ A Q 9
 Q 10 4
 A 7 6 5 3
♣ J 5
♠ J 4 3 2
 K J 7 2
 8 2
♣ K 4 2
South West North East
      1 NT *
Pass 2 ♠ * * Dbl. 3 ♣
3 ♠ Pass 4 ♠ All pass




When this deal was originally written up at last year’s Gold Coast tournament, the author commented that after a diamond lead and continuation against four spades, it would be necessary to handle trumps very carefully. If West had passed his partner’s opening bid, it might be best to win the second diamond in dummy and play East for the spade ace-queen by leading a low trump from dummy. This neutralizes the trump promotion.

Let’s revisit that statement; it might be necessary, but would it be sufficient? Over to Terry Brown, who told his tale of woe. In round one of the open teams, he arrived at the table and was greeted by Don and Judy Scown of Forster, New South Wales. On the evidence provided by this deal, Brown hypothesized that Forster Bridge Club must be full of hucksters, con-artists and flim-flam merchants.

On the auction shown, Don led the diamond 10 against four spades; Judy won the ace and returned the suit. Brown now won in dummy and led a low trump — well played!

Not to be outdone, Judy hopped up with the ace(!) and returned a third diamond. Yes, maybe declarer should have ruffed in with the jack — would you have thought of it? Terry discarded, West scored his trump eight and Judy still had the trump queen to come, for one down.

As Brown remarked, be warned! Make sure to keep your wallet hidden if you go to Forster. There are some horse-thieves out there after your hard-earned cash.

Your partner’s double is not penalty; he rates to have values and no clear call. (He is unlikely to have both majors, or he might have bid spades, then hearts). A typical shape would be 3-4-3-3, so you can introduce your diamonds, confident that if you do not have an eight-card fit there, hearts will be more than playable.


♠ A Q 9
 Q 10 4
 A 7 6 5 3
♣ J 5
South West North East
      1 ♣
Dbl. Pass 1 2 ♣
Pass Pass Dbl. Pass

For details of Bobby Wolff’s autobiography, The Lone Wolff, contact If you would like to contact Bobby Wolff, please leave a comment at this blog.
Reproduced with permission of United Feature Syndicate, Inc., Copyright 2019. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact


Iain ClimieMarch 7th, 2019 at 12:42 pm

Hi Bobby,

Ruffing with the J may look irrational but, if it is over-ruffed, East is certain to hold the HQ unless he’s opened a 10 count. If East had SAQ alone, though, repeated diamond leads will promote a trump regardless.

Doubleton leads don’t always appeal, especially given the risk of exposing partner having AJxx or similar with dummy having say) Qxx(x) and declarer K9x(x) and knowing that partner only has limited scattered strength for his 1N. I wonder what negative inferences (if any) could be drawn form West’s choice of lead.



Bobby WolffMarch 7th, 2019 at 3:17 pm

Hi Iain,

No doubt that bridge puzzles, particularly the supernatural ones, can produce both positively the most awe and for sure sadly, the ultimate

Even worse, when one goes to a theater to see a magic act, he is prepared to be basically hypnotized by its special allure. In bridge, there is no warning, merely enemy action, clearly with no holds barred.

Switching to technical, usually short suit leads against trump contracts are made with the intent of getting lucky and scoring small, otherwise worthless, trumps not ones including the queen. Otherwise
the lead of a poor holding in a suit (other than a singleton) is often a giveaway to a competent declarer as to where the higher cards in that suit are located, which in turn sometimes diminishes partner’s chances of taking a trick or tricks in that suit, besides losing the tempo in the race to establishing winners before the declarer finds a way to discard his loser(s) in that specific suit.

I, of course, am not telling you anything that you haven’t known for years, but then sometimes it is possible, especially when playing against an imaginative opening leader (but in this case, a very creative 3rd seat defender) to,at least think about not falling for that ruse.

All the above paragraph is just featured to prove to any doubters just what a superior mind game bridge, at least at the mountaintops, really is.

“if it looks like a duck, waddles like a duck, and quacks like a duck, it is usually a duck” except when it isn’t!

Mircea1March 7th, 2019 at 9:38 pm

I see you two are alone here…

What would you have lead with West’s hand?

Bobby WolffMarch 8th, 2019 at 2:38 am

Hi Mircea1,

Obviously the opening lead in such an auction is only an educated guess.
However I would rule out a club since it would be relatively easy to be giving a trick away. I also do not cotton to leading trump and perhaps giving partner’s spade jack away (although he doesn’t have it) so between a safe 9 of hearts and the doubleton diamond, we give ourselves a chance to get very lucky by catching partner’s AQ over the king in dummy, so I agree with the lead of the diamond 10,

However, the relatively blind lead of whatever (when partner has not bid a suit) and it resorts to lady luck for results.

Anyone who is sure about what to lead with these type hands can be listened to, but do not put much faith in his answers (including me).

Bill CubleyMarch 8th, 2019 at 2:49 pm

We must remember the persons were sentenced to years in Australia and New Zealand created many families who boast of ancestors being a POME – Prisoner Of Mother England,

It should be no surprise there are tricksters and con artists in bridge games. I also suspect we have many here in the USA. We all feel tricks stolen are better than tricks taken normally. It is as just Paul Newman told Tom Cruise in The Color of Money.

como conciliar el sueƱoMarch 11th, 2019 at 9:35 pm

You’ve got great knowlwdge on this website.